The boy from Ipanema

That would be me last week. Right now I'm the really sick boy lying in bed in Seattle. I was up most of last night coughing like an alcoholic in his death throes.
On the one hand, vacation has reminded me that my body needs less sleep than I think. At the same time, a combination of sleep deprivation, dancing the samba, heat exhaustion, sun stroke, about ten pounds of beef at Brazil's most famous churrascaria Porcao (how do you write an "a" with a little squiggly over it?), and heavy alcohol consumption has weakened my immune system. I am checking myself into a detox institution in a brave, pre-emptive strike against alcoholism, obesity, and skin cancer.
On a side note, I love that the Brazilian lack of inhibitions extends to their food. Naming an all-you-can-eat meat buffet restaurant Porcao and placing a giant neon pig above the entrance tells customers to leave their guilt at home. It reminds me of Star Wars. Remember the overweight X-wing pilot who was part of the rebel assault on the Death Star? He was named Porkins, and yes, he was the first to die. Even as a youth this subtle yet open discrimination against the obese struck me as unjust.
Ah yes, Rio. A week of paradise. Rio during Carnaval is an American fantasy of what Brazil is like all the time, just as Brian de Palma's The Untouchables presents a glorified vision of what a 1920's gangland Chicago would be like in our imaginations. If Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the drunken frat party where usually pent-up Puritans release their inhibitions in a disgusting display of lewd behavior, Carnaval in Rio is the party you attend wearing your smartest tuxedo, but your bow-tie is hanging around your neck, undone, and underneath you've got a swimsuit on, or a feathered skirt, or a thong. Everyone in Rio is uninhibited year round anyway, so they don't need to go overboard a few days out of the year. They simply crank the knob up a few notches.
I'll have to jot down a few notes and memories in a bit, especially because I've decided that all of you need to attend Carnaval in Rio once. It's that much fun, and you can learn from my experience. You don't have to be some young, single swinger; it's fun for all ages, and couple-friendly. Unfortunately, a torrential downpour at the start of day two of the Samba Parade killed my Leica, so all I have in the way of photos are one (as of yet) undeveloped roll from some cheap disposable. Since Elijah's camera also malfunctioned, I'm taking it as a sign that no incriminating evidence was to be recorded. After all, Christ the Redeemer was looking down on us the whole time so I already felt guilty enough about the whole affair.


One could wait until November or December, or whenever Miramax decides to release Hero here in the United States. Or you could just buy the all-region DVD and watch it next week.
Party at my place.


It's a good sign when I'm travelling so much I can't even keep up with all the photos to scan and the journal entries to record. I still haven't finished posting my recollections and photos from my trip last year to the Tour de France, let alone New Zealand and Australia and Rio. I did finally finish scanning pics from Christmas 2002, and I added my memories as well.
My family is awesome, and Christmas 2002 was perhaps our best yet. If you ever get the chance to go on vacation with me and my huge extended family of siblings, I highly recommend it. You will have ridiculous amounts of fun, and we may adopt you.

Next let's get the spammers

Dubya has done one thing which the majority of America will approve of. He signed legislation creating a national do-not-call list. Telemarketers calling someone on this list can be fined up to $11K for calling someone on the list. It should go into service this summer, and citizens can put their name on the list over the Internet or by dialing a toll-free number.
Telemarketers complain it will devastate their business and have sued the FTC, claiming the legislation restricts free speech. My heart goes out to them. Plus, I'll have fewer chances to practice Chinese with the telemarketing reps from the long-distance companies who are hoping, because of last name, that I'm a middle-aged Asian who immigrated to the U.S., speak English as a second language, and will do anything when it's offered to me in my native tongue.

Don't get too high on our politicians, though

Of course, at the same time, many of our senators are spending time pushing through name changes for food in the House cafeterias. Upset with the French refusal to support the U.S.-proposed U.N. resolution, a few legislators led the change in names from french fries and french toast to freedom fries and freedom toast. That sounds like a great use of time.
Let's hope this doesn't ruin my trip to France in July for the Tour de France. I'll need some of those French citizens to help push me up Alpe D'Huez.


It's fascinating to watch Bush and his administration in this whole confrontation with Iraq. Oh, to be a bug on the line during some of the phone calls from Washington D.C. to the heads of state of all the other members of the Security Council.
Give Bush credit for one thing. He's not exactly taking the most popular route (though perhaps a majority of American are pro-war; it's hard to tell since the anti-war camp is so much louder). As Phil mentioned while we were sunning on Copacabana Beach, the traditional rule of politics is to hoard political capital to generate more of it for elections. Bush is just burning through it and using it to push his rather unpopular agenda.
I watched Journeys With George on HBO about two months ago, and in it I saw a Bush who wants to be liked. I saw someone who might have been president of his fraternity, chummy, joking around, a charmy smarmy jock-turned-investment banker type. Now Bush is angry, frustrated, irritated, and he's on an island. How un-political of him.
It must be frustrating for Bush, Rice, Powell, Rumsefeld, and all those folks, watching Iraq dilly dallying on compliance with resolutions that were passed over 10 years ago, hiding behind the U.N. Saddam is a lunatic for goading the U.S. like this, but he probably enjoys it. Of course, if you're the playground bully, the big man around the block, it's not exactly sporting to let some scrawny punk goad you into pummeling him. And when your fists consist of the world's greatest military, it's not humane, either.
No reasonable person really ever wants war, especially when alternatives exist. But I'd like to see Saddam stripped of his power a year from now. When some crazy dictator in North Korea is testing nuclear delivery mechanisms and when Seattle is the biggest U.S. city within theoretical range of those mechanisms, more than the usual grey clouds are casting a pall in the skies overhead. I'm ready to head back to the Southern hemisphere to work on my tan.